Hurricane Blanca downgraded as it nears Mexico's Baja California

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 07, 2015 10:51 AM

By Christine Murray

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (Reuters) - Hurricane Blanca weakened to a Category 1 storm on Sunday as it approached Mexico's Baja California peninsula, according to the latest update from the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Blanca, the second hurricane to form off Mexico's Pacific coast this year, was about 150 miles (245 km) south-southwest of the tourism resort city of Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of the peninsula, the NHC said.

Only a few of the city's shops and restaurants were boarded up on Sunday afternoon as intermittent rain fell. Many tourists appeared at ease.

"It's actually quite a fun experience seeing the big waves," said Canadian tourist Sarah Neville, 48, whose flight was delayed until Monday.

"I don't want anything bad to happen but it's an interesting way to end your holiday," she added.

The hurricane, which reached Category 4 storm status on Saturday, featured maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) and was moving north-northwest at a pace of 9 mph (15 km/h).

The NHC expects Blanca to approach the southwest coast of the peninsula later on Sunday and move near or along the coast as a weakened tropical storm as late as early Monday morning.

Further weakening is expected by Monday night.

Luis Felipe Puente, the national head of emergency services, told reporters on Saturday that 18,000 tourists were vacationing in and around Cabo San Lucas, and nearly three-quarters of them were foreigners who might require help leaving the area.

Blanca could produce total rainfall of 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) over much of Baja California, including the possibility of "life threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC added.

Last September, Hurricane Odile caused severe damage along a large swath of southern Baja California, flooding much of Cabo San Lucas and stranding thousands of tourists.

(Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Jon Boyle and Eric Walsh)